The hormones in your body affect your entire life. Your mood, libido, and cognitive functioning all rely on your endocrine system. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) offers an effective solution for hormonal imbalances in both men and women.
Explore the benefits of HRT treatments that can open the door for your healthy, balanced body.
Why Everyone in Seattle is Talking About HRT
We’ve all heard about the dangers of conventional pesticides. Pesticides and other industrial chemicals disrupt normal functioning of hormones in the body. We don’t often hear of the dangers of livestock steroids. Yet, these hormone growth promoters are 100-1,000 times more biologically active than other industrial chemicals (such as pesticides). Livestock hormones are — by far — the largest contributor of estrogen to our environment.
Animal manure from hormone-enriched cows is laced with estrogen which eventually passes through the cow. The water run-off from these farms ends up in rivers and lakes. This results in wild fish exhibiting signs of hormonal imbalance, particularly within the region’s salmon population. Male fish exposed to estrogen are half as fertile as male fish that live in clean water. The lowest levels of estrogen exposure are 80 times lower than levels seen in the wild yet estrogen levels of any intensity still affect fertility, according to researchers in Sequim, Washington.
What does that mean for you? Water from rivers and lakes eventually makes its way to our drinking supply. So far, water treatments plants are unable to remove these compounds from our water,l although advanced treatment plants can transform them into even more harmful byproducts.
Shane Synder, the co-director of Arizona Laboratory for Emerging Contaminants, explains:
“If you put in ozone or advance oxidization to take out a compound, when you oxidize chemicals it becomes something different. So while it’s no longer a statin it’s now some byproduct. It’s now very common to make water more toxic after treatment than it was before treatment.”
Tap water and bottled water alike contain significant amounts of estrogen. The bottled water industry is completely unregulated by the FDA. Bottled water often contains just as many contaminants as tap water. Plastic bottled water, however, includes the added risks of phthalates. These xenoestrogens are found in plastic and they leak into the drinking water.
Phthalates imitate natural estrogen, disrupt hormone balances in the body, and lead to feminization of the body. Phthalates are also labeled as anti-androgens and contribute to testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS).
These phthalates are not only found in bottled water, but in all plastics. Plastic also contains BPA (or Bisphenol A) which is linked to increased estrogen levels and low testerone in the body. The manufacturing process of plastics includes a long list of additional xenoestrogens as well.
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult — if not impossible — to avoid excess estrogen in our environment. Over 400 common plastic products were clinically tested for estrogenic activity, 70% of them induced significant estrogenic effects. After undergoing typical daily processes, such as the microwave or dishwasher, this number leapt to 95%.
For all these reasons (and more) hormone replacement therapy arose as a solution to unbalanced human hormones. Fertility, mood swings, weight gain, libido, ability to focus, and energy levels are all affected by our hormone balance. Hormone replacement therapy offers a non-invasive treatment for hormone disruption, regardless of the source of the imbalance.
Why Men in Seattle Have Low Testosterone
As men age, they naturally decline in testosterone at a rate of 1% per year, beginning at the age of 30). Unnaturally low levels of testosterone can result from hypogonadism, testicular cancer, liver and/or kidney disease, as well as obesity, chronic stress, or alcoholism. Injuries to the testes and pituitary glands from infections or tumors may also reduce testosterone production.
Environmental sources, as mentioned above, expose men to anti-androgens (testosterone blockers). Estrogen in our environment can also decrease testosterone production through a dysfunctional feedback loop. Testosterone is produced from estrogen via the aromatase enzyme. Excessive estrogen leads to fat production. Fat stores aromatase — which leads to increased estrogen conversion from testosterone.
Excess estrogen → Fat accumulation → Increased aromatase = Reduction in testosterone
Throughout the day, testosterone levels change. Peak levels usually occur in the morning. Doctors rely on multiple measurements to assess if overall testosterone levels are normal. Normal levels for any age are over 300 nanograms per deciliter, but the healthy range spans from 250 – 1100 nanograms per deciliter. Testosterone levels lower than 200 nanograms per deciliter are considered “low.” However, doctors continue to disagree about this 200-300 range.Neil Goodman, a professor of medicine at the University of Miami, expounds that “it’s the 200 to 300 range where no one can agree whether the symptoms are related to testosterone.”
Testosterone is the dominant male sex hormone. For men, hormone replacement therapy often consists of testosterone replacement. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can revitalize a man’s strength and sexual health. HRT also helps regulate hair growth and cholesterol levels.
HRT Treatments for Men in Seattle
Hormone Replacement Therapy is a customized process. Comprehensive testing examines blood, saliva, and urine to derive your hormone levels. Your results are analyzed in conjunction with your symptoms, lifestyle, and medical history. A personalized hormone replacement therapy plan is then presented, along with extra supplements, nutritional guidance, and fitness advice.
Testosterone replacement comes in multiple forms:
- Subdermal Implant (Pellet)
- Transdermal Patch (Scrotal or Non-scrotal)
- Transdermal Gel
- Transbuccal Pill
Each type of testosterone preparation has specific benefits and drawbacks. Daily oral formulas are easy to take yet they pose risk to the liver. Deep intramuscular injections relieve the individual of a daily regimen, but they may result in mood fluctuations. Subdermal implants involve a non-surgical procedure and last three to six months. Patches vary in absorption rate and may leave welts on the skin. Transdermal gel is convenient (though it might rub off onto others). Transbuccal pills — which absorb through the cheeks directly into the bloodstream — can irritate the mouth.
Alternative treatment options include:
- DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) is a selective androgen that cannot be converted into estrogen.
- DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is produced by adrenal glands to increase androgen.
- Growth Hormone improves health concerns that are generally affected by testosterone.
Testosterone is approved for one medical condition: hypogonadism. The Institute of Medicine indicates that only a fraction of testosterone-product prescriptions are written for hypogonadism, though. Many men take testosterone for erectile dysfunction or purported anti-aging properties. The potential hazards associated with testosterone replacement may be underestimated by the general public, however, which can lead to unsafe use of testosterone replacement therapies.
General side effects of hormone replacement therapy range in severity. Acne, fluid retention, and increased urination may result. Severe side effects include decreased testicle size and sperm count, worsened sleep apnea, enlargement of breasts, infertility, increased cholesterol levels, and higher red blood cell count. An increase in red blood cells can result in muscle and chest pain, high blood pressure, blurry vision, and clots in blood vessels. These side effects are serious business.
Why Women in Seattle Have Low Hormones
Hormone production changes over a woman’s lifetime. Menopause and hysterectomies significantly alter estrogen production. Premature ovarian failure, pituitary gland malfunction, and Turner syndrome also lead to low estrogen levels, as does anorexia, excessive exercise, and chronic kidney disease.
All women, at some point in their lives, experience declining hormone levels. Estrogen and progesterone are instrumental to the reproduction process. Estrogen initiates the release of an egg, while progesterone prepares the egg implantation process in the uterus. As women age, their egg supply naturally diminishes. Estrogen and progesterone production decrease with age.
However, excessive estrogen and xenoestrogens in our environment can cause significant imbalances in our natural estrogen and progesterone ratios. This imbalance may happen at any point in a woman’s lifetime and can lead to a host of problems. Estrogen dominance is responsible for infertility, thyroid imbalances, fibroid breasts, endometriosis, high blood pressure, uterine cancer, and breast cancer, as well as depression, mood swings, and decreases in memory and sex drive.
Estrogen dominance, however, can be corrected with hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy initially appeared as a possible solution for severe symptoms of menopause. The sudden reduction of hormone production leads to unique hormone deficiency symptoms in menopausal females. Vaginal dryness, PMS symptoms, hot flashes, swollen breasts, and yeast infections commonly occur during menopause.
There are three distinct stages of menopause:
- Perimenopause lasts 3 to 10 years. Menstruation continues to occur, but hormonal changes begin.
- Menopause starts when menstruation ends. This typically happens around age 51.
- Postmenopause occurs one year after menopause. Symptoms usually decline within 2 to 5 years, but sometimes it takes 10 or more years for this to happen.
Hysterectomies involving the removal of the ovaries may induce early menopause. Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, can also trigger premature menopause. Known complications include infertility and an elevated risk of osteoporosis. Unfortunately, premature menopause cannot be prevented or reversed. The symptoms of premature menopause, however, can be effectively treated with hormone replacement therapy.
HRT Treatments for Women in Seattle
Primarily, female hormone replacement therapy consists of estrogen and progesterone. In some cases, testosterone may be also included. Estrogen (also called oestrogen) is the primary female sex hormone. There are three types of estrogen with estrogenic hormonal activity:
- Estradiol is the strongest estrogen predominantly found in premenopausal women.
- Estrone is weak in hormonal activity. It circulates during menopause.
- Estriol is the least potent estrogen. It secretes in high amounts during pregnancy.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women usually consists of estrogen-only hormone replacement or combined — estrogen and progesterone — HRT. Women who have had hysterectomies usually require estrogen-only HRT since their bodies still produce progesterone at a normal level. Progesterone regulates the menstruation cycle and protects the lining in the womb.
Most women are advised to take combined hormone replacement therapy. Estrogen replacement alone can increase risks of endometrial (womb) cancer if the woman does not produce enough progesterone on her own. Progesterone supplementation reduces carcinogenic risks by protecting the womb lining (endometrium) and is therefore often included in HRT.
Estrogen and progesterone replacement is available in multiple forms:
- Oral tablets
- Skin patches
- Vaginal creams
- Vaginal suppositories
- Subcutaneous implants
Estrogen is also found in additional preparations:
- Nasal spray
- Skin gel
- Vaginal ring
Depending on a woman’s stage of life, the recommended form of HRT will vary. Those who experience perimenopausal symptoms may be well-suited for cyclical (also called sequential) hormone replacement. Estrogen is taken daily, while progesterone is added at the end of the menstruation cycle for two weeks. This process mimics the typical menstrual cycle and allows for monthly progesterone-withdrawal bleeding. After each course of progesterone, the body sheds the endometrium, thereby deflecting harmful carcinogenic changes in the womb lining.
Continuous hormone replacement therapy is often presented to postmenopausal women. Combined estrogen and progesterone are taken daily. The result is a period-free therapy. Long-cycle hormone replacement therapy induces withdrawal bleeds once every three months, instead of once a month. The safety of long-cycle HRT for endometrial changes is questionable.
The Types of HRT Offered in Seattle
There are numerous forms of hormone replacement therapy. We’ve discussed the importance of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone HRT. Hormone therapy clinics also offer human growth hormone therapy, thyroid hormone therapy, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy treatments.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Therapy
HGH treatment aides muscle growth and tissue repair, as well as metabolism, basic energy, and brain function. HGH is critical for healthy functioning and development in children and adults. Depression, memory loss, fatigue, muscle weakness, and low bone density are some of the symptoms of human growth hormone deficiency, as well as dry skin, hair loss, and wrinkles. HGH therapy is proven to increase energy levels, bone strength, and exercise performance, among many other health benefits. The anti-aging properties of HGH are also well-documented.
Thyroid Hormone Therapy
There is no end to the importance of a fully-functional thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones regulate vital bodily processes such as temperature, organ function, appetite, metabolism, physical growth, and the reproductive system. Those with a malfunctioning thyroid gland – in other words, hypothyroidism – may experience mood changes, fluctuations in weight, and hair loss. Known as the “master gland,” the thyroid gland regulates chemical neurotransmitters that are responsible for controlling emotions. Those experiencing underactive thyroid issues find profound relief with thyroid hormone therapy.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Bioidentical hormones are derived from plants, rather than being synthetically manufactured. The advantage is significant. Bioidentical hormones are molecularly identical to the hormones produced by the human body. The safety of bioidentical hormones vastly outweighs traditional synthetic hormones and animal-derived hormones. Bioidentical hormones can be custom compounded and implanted beneath the skin for consistent dosing, rather than separate administrations.
In the Journal of Gynecological Endocrinology, Dr. Khalid Mahmud illustrates HRT:
Bio-identical hormones [chemically endogenous hormones] have gained popularity and can be mixed according to physician’s orders by compounding pharmacists in the United States… Complications described with traditional HRT did not develop in this group of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy patients.
Environmental trends in modern society bring hormonal issues to the forefront of adopting a healthy lifestyle. No matter your age or gender, hormone replacement therapy may help solve imbalances that you are experiencing.
The right hormone replacement therapy provider will help you navigate this personal and individualized therapy. Seek out an experienced HRT provider to discover the treatment plan that fits your specific needs and lifestyle.